Panorama Gem

Rock Hounding in Northeast Washington

Forest Service Plans to Destroy Roads in Oregon

January 3rd, 2016

The US Forest Service has recommended the destruction of 1,261 miles of roads in Union, Baker, Wallowa and Northern Grant Counties at the expressed concern of the people of Eastern Oregon. Link attached to maps is below, any road in red have been recommended for destruction.

We have named each map with a geographic area to make it easier for you to find the area you are concerned about.

We will be holding the monthly FAFA business meeting on Saturday, January 2nd, at Baker City in the Sunridge Inn at 3pm to discuss this matter along with other issues.

(I know that the following link is broken.)

We very much appreciate your support and look forward to seeing you on Saturday, or hearing from you at any time.

                 ———- Here’s an update to the article above: ————–

Posted March 17, 2019 by Rob
Blue Mountain Forest Plan Withdrawn Amid Enormous Protest By Public

By Katy Nesbitt
for Wallowa Valley Online

ENTERPRISE, Ore – A management plan designed to guide decisions on three eastern Oregon forests was withdrawn yesterday amid enormous protest from the public.

The decision was announced in a conference call between Chris French, acting deputy chief of the Forest Service for national forest systems, and county commissioners representing communities affected by the Blue Mt. Forest Plan Revision, an environmental impact statement begun in 2004. According to Wallowa County Commissioner Todd Nash considerable pushback from forest users convinced the agency’s leaders to agree to scrap the plan.

Nash said, “ The objection team heard loud and clear the disconnect between the Forest Service and our communities. They said they want to make some positive changes in building trust with the agency and the communities.”

Mark Owens, Harney county commissioner, has been at the forefront of forest issues for his county and the Eastern Oregon County Association at home and in Washington, D.C. as recently as the first week of March. He said the Eastern Oregon County Association members didn’t believe there was an alternative they could support.

“The proposed plan was not workable,” Owens said, “but the fact they are willing to get rid of the plan shows they understand our issues and are listening.”

Forest access, particularly vehicle access, was the biggest issue followed by disagreements in timber harvest levels and livestock grazing restrictions.

For now, Susan Roberts, Wallowa County Board of Commissioners chairman, said the Wallowa-Whitman, Umatilla and Malheur national forests will be managed with a previous planning rule, with a few minor changes, overseen by Glen Casamassa, the Pacific Northwest Regional forester.

“The visitors of these forests are to be commended for the objections they wrote, their ability to attend meetings and succinctly articulate their feelings,” Roberts said.

Mike Hayward, former Wallowa County Commissioner who worked alongside the Forest Service on many planning issues including the Blue Mt. Forest Plan, said he believes the agency’s planning process is “broken” and isn’t focused on the issues the public is.

“I think the emphasis on the planning process is on science, or they want it to be on science, and yet what drives the local communities as well as the environmental groups is less about science and more about social and economic factors,” Hayward said.

Hayward said he would like to see the Forest Service start with social and economic impacts of forest management and then fit in the science.

Roberts said she believes in the coming months there will some changes in the agency and the citizens living within the Blue Mountains will be able to build better relationships with the agency.

“Withdrawing the plan gives us an opportunity to improve all of our connections with the Forest Service and the citizens,” Roberts said.

An incredible amount of opposition from 350 individuals and organizations around Eastern Oregon first stopped the planning process in 2014. Members of an interdisciplinary team tasked with drafting nearly 6,000 pages of guiding documents for the three forests re-opened public meetings and a comment period after a revised draft was published, but further restrictions on grazing, timber harvest levels that don’t keep pace with forest growth and increasing pressure to close roads culminated in the largest protest against a forest planning process Nash said the leaders in Washington said they had experienced.

French, who has worked closely with county leaders as well as private citizens and special interest groups, said in a letter addressed to Casamassa, that hisreview did not identify any specific violations of law, regulation, or policy, but there were many factors that made the revised plan difficult to implement.

“The resulting plans are very difficult to understand, and I am concerned that there will be ongoing confusion and disagreement as to how each Revised Plan is to be implemented,” wrote French.

A press release from Casamassa’s Portland office said existing land and resource management plans, as amended, will remain in place as the Forest Service determines next steps for the Umatilla, Malheur, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests.In the coming months, Forest Service officials will engage stakeholders to explore ways of working together to support a path forward on shared priorities including strengthening local economies, reducing wildfire risk, ensuring access, and supporting healthier watersheds.

“We are committed to the responsible stewardship of National Forest System lands and confident that we can find common ground for the long-term sustainable management of these forests,” said Regional Forester Casamassa. “I look forward to joining local and state officials, partners, Tribes, and members of the public to explore how we can best work together in shared stewardship to pursue common objectives.”

Mining vs Sage-Grouse on BLM Land

January 3rd, 2016

Message from Hidemi Kira, NFMS President:

To ALAA Members and Rockhounds in the Pacific Northwest,

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is holding a series of public meetings across the west to gather information on a proposal to withdraw lands determined to be crucial to the survival of the greater sage-grouse from location and entry under the 1872 Mining Law, subject to valid existing rights. The BLM is also extending the public comment period on the withdrawal proposal until January 15, 2016 to allow the Secretary of the Interior to collect additional information relevant to the decision on whether to withdraw these areas from the location of new mining claims for up to 20 years. An interactive map of the areas included in the proposed withdrawal is available at

Attached is a sample letter prepared by our 1st VP Jim Bosley for your use and edit as you see fit. Jim thinks each rock club needs to review the map of the proposed withdrawal areas and identify the specific area that they historically use for rockhounding and add to the letter.

Letters need to be submitted by January 15, 2016. The electronic address is included as well as the mailing address for the Director of the BLM.


Map of proposed areas

Amount of letters will count, so please write as your club and pass this sample letter to your members for them to write as an individual.

And this affects a lot of small communities, so please try to get those community leaders in your area involved.

Thank you and Happy New Year!